JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Belmont University Baseball split a pair of games against Jacksonville State Saturday. BU won the first game 7-1 and fell 9-3 in game two. The day was highlighted by freshman Joshua South (Cookeville, Tenn.) who threw his second complete game victory of the season.
The Bruins saw the ball well from the start of game one of the doubleheader. Senior Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) got BU's bats going early with a one-out infield hit. Junior Chandler Adkins (Knoxville, Tenn.) got his impressive day started by working a beautiful at bat that resulted in a full count walk to put runners on first and second. A double play would end the inning, but the Bruins had momentum after the first half inning of play.
Belmont proved to show up defensively as well, with an impressive bottom half of the first. Jacksonville State's leadoff hitter got aboard after being hit by a pitch, but an unconventional double play on a flyout to shallow center field got BU two quick outs. Another fly ball ended the inning scoreless.
Double plays continued to plague Belmont in the top of the second. After a senior Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) walk and a freshman Grayson Taylor (Madison, Ala.) single, BU knocked on the door with runners on the corners with just one out. Another double play would mark the final outs for the Bruins in the second, keeping them off the board.
South continued to be impressive on the hill, facing the minimum through two. He struck out the final batter he saw in the bottom of the second to keep things scoreless. The squads traded three up, three down innings in the third, keeping the deadlock.
The Bruins bats woke up in the top of the fourth, finally putting the team on the board. Adkins got things going in the inning with a leadoff single to right field. Freshman Tommy Crider (Madison, Ala.) then singled to left field, putting runners on first and second. Alabama native freshman Grayson Taylor (Madison, Ala.) delivered the first RBI of the night to give BU a 1-0 lead. Freshman John Behrends (Chattanooga, Tenn.) kept things going, working a two-out walk and sophomore Jackson Campbell (Russellville, Ky.) plated two more with a double that gave Belmont a 3-0 lead.
After Belmont scored three runs on four hits to take the lead, South faced the minimum in the next two innings. His fifth-straight three up, three down inning preserved BU's 3-0 lead.
The Bruins increased its lead in the top of the fifth with another two-out rally. Behrends and Campbell made things happen again when Behrends worked a walk and Campbell scored him with a double down the left field line to give BU a 4-0 lead.
JSU would score its only run of the night in the bottom of the sixth. A solo home run cut the Bruins' lead 4-1.
Belmont continued its offensive assault in the top of the seventh. After Hadden worked a leadoff walk and Adkins wore a pitch, Belmont had runners on first and second with no outs. Senior Devon Gardner (Maryville, Tenn.) laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to push both runners to scoring position. Both runners scored to take a 6-1 lead with the help of a Crider RBI single. Crider would eventually score an unearned run, taking advantage of a JSU error increasing the lead 7-1.
South continued to impress, holding JSU off the board in the seventh and striking out the side in the eighth, preserving Belmont's lead. South trotted back to the mound for the bottom of the ninth to try and finish out the game for the Bruins.
The Gamecocks got two base runners on in the bottom of the ninth, but South dug in and got the three outs he needed to finish the game. He finished the game scattering just three hits, fanning nine and walking just two.
Senior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) started the second game off right where Belmont left off, with a leadoff single. A sacrifice bunt from Hadden and an Adkins walk put runners on first and second, but they were stranded.
The game remained scoreless after the first inning, after sophomore Korey Bell (Brentwood, Tenn.) retired the Gamecocks in order with the help of a Belmont double play.
Belmont continued to keep things moving offensively, working a leadoff walk to give BU an early base runner. Behrends laced a one-out single to put runners on the corners, but they were ultimately stranded.
JSU took advantage and took the lead in the bottom of the second. The Gamecocks took a 5-0 lead after four hits in the bottom of the inning.
The Bruins continued to push, manufacturing a run in the top of the third. After Hadden reached second base on an error, Adkins continued his hot bat. His RBI up the middle cut the JSU lead 5-1.
Jacksonville responded, scoring three more runs in the bottom of the third for a 9-1 lead.
With all momentum seemingly in JSU's favor, sophomore Kyle Brennan (Franklin, Tenn.) took over the mound for the Bruins and took control. Brennan kept JSU off the board for the first time in the game in the bottom of the fourth with the help of two strikeouts.
Belmont stayed poised and continued to chip away at the Gamecocks lead. After a leadoff single by Campbell, Hadden reached on an error to put runners on the corners with no outs. Adkins then notched his second RBI of the game with a groundout that scored Campbell and cut the lead 9-2. Gardner then delivered a base knock to shallow center to plate another run and Belmont cut the lead 9-3 after five complete.
Brennan continued his command on the mound in the fifth, keeping JSU scoreless in the bottom of the fifth and adding another strikeout to his line.
BU knocked on the door in the top of the sixth, loading the bases with three consecutive base hits from Taylor, Behrends and Campbell. With the bases loaded and one out, Belmont looked to make up some ground, but a strikeout and fly ball ended the inning leaving the bases full of Bruins.
After two quick outs in the bottom of the sixth, Brennan gave up just his second base hit, but worked around it for another scoreless inning.
Belmont loaded the bases for the second-consecutive inning in the bottom of the seventh after another Adkins single, and two walks. The Bruins were unable to make a two-out rally and left the bases loaded for the second time.
The score remained 9-3 after seven complete innings as Brennan struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh.
The Bruins scored what would be the final run of the night in the top of the eighth. After Ehrhart walked and made his way to third on a Hadden single, Belmont had a runner just 90-feet from home plate. Adkins, keeping his impressive day going, delivered his third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly that plated Ehrhart to cut the lead 9-4.
A three up, three down bottom of the eighth gave Belmont one last chance to keep the game going in the top of the ninth. Crider started the inning with a single, but Belmont was unable to plate any more runs and ultimately fell 9-3.
Brennan was stellar in relief, throwing five and two-thirds innings, walking just one and striking out ten. He allowed no runs, marking his 25thconsecutive scoreless inning.
Belmont will be back in action Tuesday, April 16 for a rematch with WKU at E.S. Rose Park. First Pitch is slated for 4:00 p.m. CT.